Date: February 2, 2007
About: Rick Hummel - Class of 1964
Hummel Wants Herzog To Be Hall Of Fame Company
Hummel wants Herzog to be Hall of Fame company
Friday, February 2, 2007
Bruce Sutter said it with a laugh, but there was some truth to his remarks.
While talking with Whitey Herzog as they worked to reunite the 1982 World Series championship team for a baseball writers dinner this winter, Sutter needled his former manager about St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel receiving the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
"Did you ever think Rick Hummel would get elected to the Hall of Fame before you?" Sutter said.
Herzog just shook his head with a smile.
Hummel, the Quincy native who spent 25 years as the beat writer covering the Cardinals and today is the Post-Dispatch's national baseball columnist, will be honored in Cooperstown on July 29 when he official joins other journalists in the "Scribes and Mikemen" wing of the Hall.
Then his mission changes.
Hummel, who will vote with the veterans committee, will push to get Herzog into the Hall as a manager.
"It's something he deserves," Hummel said.
No Cardinals fan will argue that.
Named the Sports Illustrated Manager of the Decade for the 1980s, Herzog managed the Cardinals to three National League pennants and a World Series during his 10-year stint. His style — you know it as Whiteyball — can't be duplicated.
He created teams with speed, perfect for Busch Stadium's artificial surface. He focused on defense, anchoring his team with leather dynamos like Darrell Porter and Ozzie Smith. He figured out how to deal with unique personalities, even finding a way to get Joaquin Andujar to win 20 games.
Herzog spoke Thursday at Tony's East Room, entertaining a crowd of about 300 who had gathered to honor Hummel at "A Night with the Commish," and during the course of Herzog's speech, he talked about his ideal Hall of Famer.
He said it had to be a player who could do everything.
A five-tool player.
Well, Herzog was a five-tool manager.
He did more than write names on the lineup card and make an occasional trip to the mound. He played percentages, he strategized, he used his bullpen and bench as strengths and never let these "pond scum" Mets get the better of him.
Hummel relayed stories of Herzog going to key bench players like Steve Braun and Dane Iorg during the mid-1980s while on a road trip to Shea Stadium and telling them in the third inning to be prepared to face a certain pitcher as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
At first, they laughed at him.
Eventually, they learned to believe him.
"It would play out just the way Whitey said it would," Hummel said. "He understood the game better than anyone."
He passed that knowledge on to Hummel.
"About 70 percent of the baseball I know is because of Whitey," Hummel said. "He taught me to watch a game and analyze a game."
Herzog plans to be in Cooperstown this summer when Hummel receives his honor, just like he was when Sutter and Ozzie Smith and other players he managed were inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Someday they'll return the favor.
Have a question or comment for Sports Writer Matt Schuckman? Contact him at (217) 221-3366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.